by Julia Pierrepont III, Gao Shan
LOS ANGELES, May 18 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. expert on eco-civilization urged world leaders to plan responsibly for the sustained welfare of mankind during an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday.
"What we need is a world where people, nature and animals can flourish together. It's the only sustainable model for the future that doesn't lead to our own extinction," said John B. Cobb Jr., a 93-year-old member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Cobb is known for applying "process philosophy" that identifies metaphysical reality with change and development to the field of ecology and sustainability to propose solutions to the grave environmental crisis the world faces.
Much of his life's work has been devoted to redirecting humanity's efforts toward the creation of a thriving planet with as many people as possible living happy and healthy lives in harmony with the world around them.
"People think increasing the gross domestic product is always a good thing. They forget it includes any economic advancement, whether it's good or bad (for us and the planet)," said Cobb.
He warns against the prevailing dualism that leads people to think that humans and the environment are separate, independent things, when in fact they are inextricably intertwined and interdependent. Only together can both thrive.
Cobb's ideas coincide with China's pursuit of a sustainable ecological civilization.
The Chinese government has stressed that striving for a sustainable ecological civilization would greatly benefit today's world and lead to "gains for millennia."
Cobb, who has visited China seven times, spoke of his recent visit to a rural Chinese farm community in eastern Zhejiang Province to share his ideas for sustainable eco-villages.
"I greatly admired the excitement and real commitment of the people from all the villages. It will take millions of Chinese capable of intense commitment to say, 'We are going to do this,'" said the expert.
"Surprisingly, my greatest legacy is shaping up to be the contribution my work has made in enabling China to adopt a sounder ecological future," he added.
China has a unique opportunity to lead the world in creating a sustainable ecological civilization, he said, hoping that China would continue to develop its own agrarian villages in ecologically-sound economic ways that would make whole villages more prosperous and healthy.
When asked about the mistakes China has made in the past that led to serious environmental pollution, Cobb said, "These are issues that the government of China is committed to solving and they've made enormous progress."
"When I point out areas for improvement in China, it is because I believe it can achieve them," he added.